Do You Need a Box Spring?

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 12/02/2022

Your mattress needs proper support, which can come in several different shapes. One of them is a box spring. But do you absolutely need it?

We’re here to help you figure it all out with this guide! Here’s what you should know.

What Is a Box Spring?

To put it simply, it’s a box with springs, and it was created as support for a traditional innerspring mattress. It should be the same size as your mattress but not part of the actual bed frame. So if your mattress is King size, the box spring is the same.

Made out of a wooden frame and actual springs or a metal grid in between them, box springs are used to provide support, absorb shock, and other things we’ll touch on later.

They’re an older type of support, still mainly used for traditional innerspring beds, and there are a lot of alternatives today. One of them has to be perfect for you and your mattress! Whether or not you need a traditional box spring depends on your bed and preferences.

Box Spring vs. Foundation vs. Platform Beds

If you’re shopping for a new mattress, you probably ran into these terms in the mattress industry – box spring, foundation, and platform beds. As mentioned before, every mattress needs some form of support, and the options vary. 

But what are the differences between these three terms? Or are they all the same? Not exactly. The type of support you’ll choose depends on the mattress and what you like, but they all function similarly. 

A box spring is a wooden frame filled with metal springs. It’s predominantly used for innerspring beds. 

A foundation, on the other hand, has no coils. It’s usually made with wooden slats or a flat solid, firm surface suitable for foam mattresses. Depending on how they’re made, foundations can be used with or without the bed frame. 

Although, keep in mind that the terms box springs and foundations are often used interchangeably today. They might seem similar when you look at them from the outside, but they’re not the same on the inside.

Lastly, platform beds combine the frame and the support, so you don’t have to get a separate foundation for the mattress. It’s a whole package! Sometimes, they even come with storage space under the bed. 

Why You Need a Box Spring

Not everyone needs a box spring, but it comes with some advantages. Here are a few cases of why a box spring could be the right choice for you. 

Collapsible Metal Frame

Collapsible metal bed frames require a box spring for enough support. The metal in this bed frame folds and has no support for the mattress. This can come with many other problems for the mattress, including performance and durability issues, and it can void the warranty.

Support the Mattress

Your mattress is supposed to support you, but it also needs to be supported. The question is, do you need a box spring to give that support? 

Some mattresses, like innerspring mattresses, need a layer of proper support under them. This is where box springs come into play. Because it’s made from coils, an innerspring bed can suffer a lot of damage from usage, and the box spring is made to handle that damage and transfer it onto itself. It can last up to 10 years.

As you’ll see, not every mattress type needs a box spring. For example, it’s not made for foam beds. But they all need extra support. 

Increased Height

Box springs can also be used to set your mattress higher. There’s no rule for this; the perfect height depends on your preferences. 

Some people like a taller bed, while others like a low-profile one. You can use box springs if you want to stay up high. Higher beds are suitable for taller people and those who have a more challenging time getting up in the morning. 

Better Airflow

Breathability and airflow are a must if you want to combat dust, bacteria, and hot sleeping. Hot sleepers know how important a good mattress is for them, and the cooling properties can be put to the side if you don’t choose a solid foundation. 

Because box springs are hollow with just metal coils, they make for a breathable option for hot sleepers. The air can freely travel through the springs and the mattress, dissipating trapped heat. 

Check out our guide on best cooling mattresses to learn more.

Shock Absorption

One of the pros of a box spring is shock absorption, which makes your mattress last longer. When box springs absorb shock, it takes some of the pressure you put on the bed. Innerspring beds aren’t known to last very long, so this is a plus!

Although, a box spring doesn’t last forever. It loses support over time, and you’ll have to flip it every once in a while. It lasts about as much as a mattress, around 10 years.

Mattress Warranties

Lastly, if your mattress isn’t adequately supported, it could void the mattress warranties. 

The mattress companies will usually tell you exactly what kind of support your mattress needs. They know what their mattress is made from and how to take care of it properly. 

And if they say a box spring is a must, it’s an absolute must! Also, make sure to check mattress reviews for more information.

Box Spring Alternatives

But what if the manufacturer says you don’t have to use the box spring? Let’s examine your other options for bed frames, the bed base, and whether they provide adequate support.

Foundation Bed

As mentioned before, foundations offer a firm platform to put your mattress on. Made with panels or slats, a supportive foundation can be used with or without a bed frame. Because of their rigid support, foundations are a good option for memory foam mattresses. 

Bunkie Board

Do you need a box spring or a thin slab of wood that could be enough to handle your mattress? Coming from bunk beds, a bunkie board is also used to support sofas and similar beds. It’s thin but can be easily removed and does the job.  

Putting the Mattress on the Floor

You could also put your new mattresses directly on the floor, but that has some cons.

Even though the floor can be supportive enough for most modern mattresses, as long as it’s not an innerspring mattress, it also less hygienic and offers no breathability. Also, it could void your warranty or be too low. 

Reinforced Metal Bed Frame

Similar to the collapsible bed frame, a reinforced metal frame has slightly more support. The metal with support wire used for reinforcing the frame is enough to handle a mattress, although not as much as other options, so you don’t need a separate box spring to go with it. 

Platform Bed Frame

If you need an all-in-one solution, invest in a platform bed. A platform bed offers both support and it’s there for aesthetic purposes. However, consider that these are the better option for memory foam, latex, and even hybrid mattresses, but innerspring beds are usually better with a box spring. 

Also, platform beds are usually lower. They might not be the right choice for you if you need a higher bed because you’re tall or suffer from joint pain. 

Bed Frame With Slats

A platform bed frame doesn’t need a solid surface for a mattress to rest on – it could also have slats. These slats are usually made from wood, metal, or plastic and should be set close enough to support the mattress. You might need a box spring on top if they’re too far apart, and the gap size could also be included in the mattress warranty. 

Adjustable Bed Frame

Adjustable bed frames are rare; besides the different needed support, they require different mattresses. For example, they’re not made for an innerspring mattress. In this case, a box spring doesn’t work for you. Adjustable beds are made to be moved and set into different positions by remote controls, and they need a flexible support system to go with them. 

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Box Spring

It’s all fine and dandy, but are there any specific reasons you should stay away from box springs? There seems to be some. 

Memory Foam, Latex, and Hybrid Mattresses

Box springs are traditionally made for innerspring mattresses and don’t offer the proper support for most mattresses. If you’re sleeping on a memory foam mattress, latex mattress, or other modern mattresses, you should get a solid foundation because a box spring could do more harm than good in this case. 

Even though it usually has coils, a hybrid mattress doesn’t tend to need a box spring for extra support. Latex mattresses and hybrid mattresses are best on slatted bases. 

Less Space

If you want to use a box spring, say goodbye to extra storage space under the bed. Because of their size, which is similar to the mattress itself, box springs make it hard to use the area under the bed for storage drawers or other similar purposes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does a Box Spring Do?

The most important job of a box spring is to support your mattress and make it last longer. But, it can also be there to make your bed higher and improve airflow. 

Do I Need a Box Spring?

Whether or not you need a box spring mostly depends on the warranty. If your mattress manufacturer says that you need a box spring for your mattress, then you do. Everything else is based on personal preferences. 

Can I Put a Mattress on the Floor?

Putting a mattress directly on the floor can be done, but it’s not for the best. The floor can be a mattress foundation for most mattresses, but you’re also sacrificing airflow, height, and hygiene. 

Do You Need a Box Spring With a Platform Bed?

No, you don’t. Platform beds offer the bed frame and support in one, and you don’t need to add a box spring unless you want to. Platform beds with slats might require a box spring if the gaps are too big. 

Final Thoughts

So, should you use a box spring or not? Is your mattress good on the floor, or does it need some other type of support? We hope that this guide helped you answer these questions.

Every mattress support, whether in the form of a box spring, foundation bed, or any other alternative. Also, ensure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions because inadequate support can void the mattress warranty, and we don’t want that. 

Good luck!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.